It takes discipline to concentrate on the process, and to let the outcome take care of itself, recognising that there will be stumbles along the way, but in the long run, the results will come when the process is optimised.
Business is filled with sporting analogies, very useful in making a simple point, so here are two more that make my point.
- Manly rugby league is seemingly currently having a tough time. Defending premiers, their coach left for the enemy under unsettling circumstances, and now their stars are being wooed to go elsewhere, after premierships in 2011, and 2008, and being runners up in 2007. A winning team is slowly being broken up. If you recall, several of their stars left after the 2008 premiership, and again in 2009 when they failed to do much, “what are they going to do for a half-back” the pundits cried 2 years ago. Well up stepped a young bloke to whom they paid relative peanuts, and turned it all around, and now wants to be paid his worth. Their team is packed full of rep players, many of whom have come through the ranks, if not from Manly, then elsewhere, and had their potential realised by the processes at Manly. This does not happen by accident, it is the result of the combined brainpower of the management and coaching staff. They have in place a set of processes, talent selection and management, injury management, players skills, team cohesion on the field and management of the players as individuals. All this comes together on the field, and is extremely hard to replicate in total, it is the bundle of processes that drives the results over time. It remains to be seen if Manly can continue when several of the key brains in building and improving these processes have left, but the playing roster is, for the moment, unchanged.
- Some years ago I watched the British Open on TV with my sage old Dad, (2005 I think) the one Tiger Woods blitzed by 5 shots, and seemed unstoppable. It was noticeable that he often hit off the tee with an iron when the others in his group all used woods, even on some of the long holes. This seemed incongruous to me, but obviously worked. Dad explained it by asking the objective of golf:
“Obviously, to get a low score I responded”
“How do you do that”?
“Get as close to the hole as possible, then sink it” I said, (or something like that)
“Is a long first shot always necessary”?
By then the penny was slowly dropping. Clearly not, the best shot is the one that makes the next one easier, and contributes the most to the outcome, a low score on the hole.
Dad reckoned Woods mentally put himself standing at the flag, and worked out his shots backwards, deciding where each shot should end up to make the next one easier, and more certain, and then selecting the appropriate club. By concentrating on improving the golfing equivalent of the interdependent processes required to get a low score, the low scores did come, more often than his opposition.
Pity he did not apply the same discipline to his life off the course, and I resist the temptation to pun on “score”.